Capped off by a weekend sweep of its archrival, the Clarkson University Hockey team enters a lengthy exam/holiday break after posting one of the best first-semester records in the program's 92-year history.
Guided by third-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy '00 and Andy Jones, the Golden Knights stand at 12-3-1 overall and hold down third place in the ECAC Hockey standings with a 6-2 league mark. The Green and Gold are now off until the end of year when they play a pair of Hockey East foes in the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup on December 28-29 in at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, VT. The Knights face tournament host the University of Vermont in the first round of the classic format, and then battle UMass-Lowell on the second day.
Picked to finish 12th out of 12 teams in the ECAC Hockey Preseason Coaches' poll back in mid-September, Clarkson, led by senior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT), rolls into the December break ranked 7th and 8th, respectively in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com national polls. A balanced contribution throughout the lineup, and the ability and confidence to win close games has been the trademark for the Knights this season. Clarkson put those traits on full display this past weekend in the North Country.
The Knights ran their conference unbeaten streak over St. Lawrence to eight games (7-0-1) by sweeping the Saints in a home-and-home series. Before the third largest crowd (3,965) ever at Cheel Arena on Friday, Clarkson outscored St. Lawrence 3-1 in the third period to gain a 5-4 victory. On Saturday in Canton, the Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit in the opening two minutes and skated to a 4-3 road win, knocking off the Saints for the fourth consecutive year at Appleton Arena.
Eight different Clarkson players scored a goal in the weekend sweep, 16 Knights recorded at least one point and both goaltenders picked up a win as the Green and Gold improved their record in one-goal games to 9-1-1.
Trailing 3-2 after two periods in Friday's game, Clarkson struck for three unanswered goals in under a six-minute span to take control in the third. Senior Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) started the Clarkson rally in the third period with his fourth goal of the season, at 6:09. The Knights went on top 5-3 with a pair of goals 25 seconds apart with sophomore Jeff DiNallo (Aurora, ONT) and freshman Troy Josephs (Whitby, ONT) finding the back of the net. Sophomores T.J. Moor (Lake St. Louis, MO), with first goal of the season, and Simon Bessette (St. Jean, QUE) tallied in the first period. Sophomore goaltender Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) made 17 to improve his record against St. Lawrence to 3-0-1.
Despite surrendering a pair of goals in the opening minutes of Saturday's contest and giving the nation's top-ranked power play eight man-advantage opportunities, including two of the five-minute variety, Clarkson earned the weekend sweep and improved its record against St. Lawrence to 9-1-1 over the past four years. Junior Joe Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) capped off the rally with the game-winner early in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Junior defenseman Sam Labrecque (Granby, QUE), Sexton and DiNallo, with a goal in his third straight game, also scored for the Knights, who trailed 3-2 after the first period. Freshman goaltender Steve Perry (Ligonier, PA) came on in relief for Clarkson to start the middle frame and turned aside all 14 shots he faced to secure the Knights' fourth consecutive victory.